I’m not so sure why I am bothering to write so many words in a row about what I ate/saw/heard/smelled at the Natural Products Expo West this year, seeing as it seemed to me that all of you were there, too. Snapping Instapix and live-blogging your way down aisles 100-6500 (there were that many aisles this year!) like my friend The Insufferable Vegan. But, for the seven to ten of you that were stuck at home cause of your baby/snow/flu I’m gonna break it down so it’ll feel like you were there, also too.
Imagine the airport the day before Thanksgiving. A big airport like JFK or O’Hare. Instead of gates there are booths and instead of travelers trying to make their way home so they can binge eat in private, there are vegans trying to grab free samples, take pictures of said samples, and Instagram that picture while eating and walking to the next booth. Now spend an entire day or two or three eating something sweet then something salty then something sweet then something spicy then something gross then a beverage that is probably tea/coconut/chia/chunky/vitamin’d. Surround yourself with chips or chip like things made out of everything from peas to potatoes, chocolate, ice cream, meatless technologies, robo-cheese (do you like that term for vegan cheese? I just coined it.) and a lot of a lot of a lot of things.
Here are my top however many things I learned tasted or took away from NPEW ’13 in iTunes shuffle-style order:
6. DF Mavens Ice Cream. Holy wow. The New Orleans Salted Praline and the Key Lime Creme were so creamy and so delicious it totally makes up for the fact that their name is Da Funk Mavens*
*a fact I totally made up.
17. Dennis Kucinich, who was not available to sample but was available for a photo op. He was this year’s Fabio, seeing as Fabio was devastatingly not in attendance, ruining my plan to get him to sign 8×10 glossies of US from the last two years, and then give them to him. At least Dennis didn’t dislocate my shoulder.
32. Asherah’s Gourmet Vegan Burgers. These are gluten-free, soy free, flavor-full and one of the best “garden patch” style veggie burgers (as opposed to Meatless Technologies) you can get. Try the Chipotle flavor if you like a little kick.
21. Hodo Soy Beanery makes the best Tofu not in Japan and they have this guy!
Prepare yourselves for their new Sofrito filling at Chipotle! And in the interim, try their yuba strips!
42. Califia Farms coffee drinks with almond milk are not only super tasty beverages, but their packaging belongs in the MoMA.
8½. LØV Organic Teas come from a land where the null sign is part of the alphabet and bright colors are not necessarily a sign of special needs.
1. The Elegant Vegan. PICKLED KALE people. Pickled Kale! The nicest family from Wisconsin you could ever meet at a vegan convention combines approximately eighty Portlandia jokes into one delicious food . They also have a B&B that serves vegan food called Ye Olde Manor House!
17. Did I do 17 already? Fine. 25. The people of Tofurky were so nice and handsome also and so were all the new Tofurky products like: three flavors of hot pockets (pepperoni pizza, turk’y broccoli & cheddar, BBQ chick’n), three new artisan sausages (chick’n & apple, spinach pesto, andouille), quiche, and pot pie, and a personal promise to me by Gregory Rekas, Research & Development Chef, that they will make a stuffing-less Tofurky.
3.14159. So Delicious’s new Coconut Milk Creamers will supposedly foam in coffee beverages the way “real” milk does! So, eff you Handsome Coffee Roasters who won’t serve freaky milk (read: non-dairy milk) because it’s “not good.”
35. Boca Original Chik’n Veggie Nuggets have such a different flavor than the 87 other brands of chik’n nuggs. I think maybe they taste like chicken! Use caution, not all Boca products are vegan.
11. Justin’s vegan peanut butter cups will now be sold in bags, Halloween style! I might actually be able to like that “holiday” now. Though one bag probably costs $8,000.
16. Follow Your Heart’s new Chipotle Gourmet Vegenaise and High Omega Bleu Cheese Dressing are the kind of good that if I ever decide to commit suicide, I think I will drown myself in this stuff.
99. Wayfare makes oat based ice cream! And they have a Vermont Maple flavor! It’s like being in a vegan ice cream parlor inside a sugar shack in Quebec.
3. Go Veggie! (GVEP [Go Veggie Exclamation Point])’s new products and top-secret new products in development (with a food scientist who happens to have the only PhD in Tofu in the world and created Silk) and partnership with the ever-adorable Spork Sisters who create recipes like Strawberry Cream Cheese Mousse With Graham Cracker Crumbles. I suggested they make a brie next. Wouldn’t that be great?
666. The Orange Owl. This was the best non-edible booth of the show. Akshata Nayak, the owner, was born and raised in Bangalore, India. She moved to the US, got a Masters in Biochemistry another Masters in Applied Clinical Nutrition (she’s a master master) and then started the best designed and most lovely body products company I know. Now where’s my vat of chipotle Vegenaise?
13. Haig’s Delicacies. Have you ever tried muhammara? You should. And their dolmas. And their hummus. Yum.
33.3333 Guacamame. This sounds disgusting, but sounds can be wrong. It was really good guac made from edamame!
59. Nutty Cow. These soft nut cheeses in a little tub were really good. If you want a soft spreadable substance, there are ricotta, a garlic herb and a maple pecan options that would work well I bet.
88². Maggie’s Conscious Vegan Cuisine makes ready-to-eat meals in a BPA-free container that can go right in the microwave. The Lentils with Curry and Lime flavor was really delicious and by far the best of the three I tried. As extra-credit for your mouth, they’re gluten-free, don’t have any saturated fats or added oils and are low in sodium!
48. The Real Deal Real! Veggie Chips Sriracha. These gluten-free all natural chips are made from peas! I don’t even like peas! AND, these have 80% less fat than potato chips AND AND one ounce of chip equals one and a half vegetable servings. Did I mention they taste like Sriracha and they’re super crunchy and I’m eating them with one hand as I type this with the other?
9. A gajillion new Gardein products! Including breakfast sandwiches, beefless jerky, GoGo Cuisines, wheat free chick’n strips, sizzlin’ szechuan beefless strips, and a lightly breaded turk’y cutlet! I think Gardein and Daiya are two-handedly keeping Canada in business.
∞. Everything else. Like Daiya‘s new pizza (the garlic mushroom in particular, though I didn’t think their new cheese slices were very good), Maple Bacon Kettle Chips, and Objects With Purposes great smelling wearable candles made from organic coconut butter, Victoria Vegan arugula pesto Alfredo sauce, Earth Balance cheesy poufs and popcorn, Bolani Afghan dips, and a special SuperVegan Award For Sucking goes to Lightlife, for serving their vegan products on non-vegan buns.
Now visualize with your mind’s eye or some other new-agey part of you that the show is all over, your shoes are filled with blood, every part of your body hurts (especially your tum) and a S-M size piece of your soul was left in the basement of the Anaheim Convention Center,** But that is not the end of the journey! No! No trip to The OC is complete without the purchase of several boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, so it’s off to the nearest Food4Less to buy three boxes of cookies for twelve american dollars from a girl scout that looked older than me. And no, it does not make any sense that OC’s are vegan and LA’s are not.
**Dramatically enhanced for your enjoyment.
Did you go to the Expo? Do you know if Tums or AlkaSelzer are vegan? What were your favs/least favs? Stay tuned for a special report on all the gluten-free vegan products!